Brazilians protests against gang violence in Sao Paulo

Brazilians angered by gang violence that rocked South America's largest city gathered for demonstrations across the country with many blaming the bloodshed that left 172 people dead on rampant corruption.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, meanwhile, made his first visit to Sao Paulo since the city was hit by a wave of gang attacks on police and said that the violence could not be stopped by simply beefing up the police presence.

Sunday was declared a "Day of National Dignity" by demonstrators in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other major cities, who were protesting the failure of politicians to crack down on organized crime.

"We're really protesting corruption," said Gabriela Campos Paulino, who was organizing the Sao Paulo march. She said demonstrators were honoring slain police officers during the march.

"Corruption generates this type of lack of governance and lack of security," she said.

Starting May 12 the First Capital Command gang killed 41 police officers and prison guards, torched dozens of city buses and orchestrated simultaneous prison rebellions across the state.

Over the following days, police struck back, killing 109 suspected criminals, many in unclear circumstances. Eighteen prison inmates and four bystanders also were killed.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 protesters showed up for the march in Sao Paulo, according to police estimates, reports the AP.

I.L.